Premiership final: Saracens 28-20 Exeter Chiefs
|2016 Aviva Premiership final|
|Saracens (23) 28|
|Tries: Taylor, Wyles, Goode Cons: Farrell 2 Pens: Farrell 3|
|Exeter Chiefs (6) 20|
|Tries: Yeandle, Nowell Cons: Steenson 2 Pens: Steenson 2|
Saracens beat Exeter Chiefs to win the Premiership final and become the first English side to complete a domestic and European double since 2004.
Exeter, in their first play-off final, were blown away by a dominant first half from Sarries, who led 23-6 through Duncan Taylor and Chris Wyles scores.
Jack Yeandle and Jack Nowell crossed after the break as a rejuvenated Chiefs reduced the deficit to three points.
But Alex Goode's late try secured the title for the defending champions.
Victory also means Mark McCall's side, who won the European Champions Cup two weeks ago, become the first English club since Wasps 12 years ago to win the top-flight and European titles in the same season.
Super Sarries dominate
Fresh from thrashing Leicester 44-17 in the semi-finals and their Champions Cup success against Racing Metro, Saracens' fierce defence never gave Exeter a sniff in the opening period - the Chiefs did not get possession in their opponents' 22 until stoppage time.
Owen Farrell set the tone for Sarries with two early penalties to one from Gareth Steenson.
Following a third Farrell kick, an attritional opening period was set alight when Sarries hooker Schalk Brits made a fantastic 40-metre break, setting the platform for Taylor to latch on to a perfectly-weighted grubber kick from Farrell and score.
And soon after it seemed Saracens were out of sight, as England backs Nowell and Henry Slade slipped off Wyles in a wide position to allow the United States wing to coast in for a second try.
Exeter ended the half with another Steenson penalty, coming after they finally got within range of the Saracens try line for the first time.
The Chiefs strike back
Whatever Exeter head coach Rob Baxter said to his side during the break had the desired affect.
Replacement hooker Yeandle was forced over for Exeter's first try after Steenson had kicked a penalty to touch 13 minutes after the restart.
Saracens seemed to tire, but Exeter could not find another way through until seven minutes from full-time, when Slade's wonderful sidestep created space to feed Phil Dollman and then England wing Nowell.
But their renewed hope lasted just a minute, as Marcelo Bosch drew in three defenders to create space for Chris Ashton, who in turn fed Goode to stretch over the Exeter line.
The Saracens trophy cabinet gets bigger
Could Saracens be about to create a dynasty to rival the Wasps and Leicester sides of the early part of this century?
The Tigers won four top-flight titles between 1999 and 2002 and three more between 2007 and 2010, while Wasps won three consecutive English crowns between 2003 and 2005.
Sarries, meanwhile, have now reached three successive Premiership finals and two out of the last three European finals - matching both Leicester and Wasps by securing their maiden Champions Cup.
They will now be aiming to retain their domestic and European crowns next season, just as Leicester did in 2002 with the likes of Martin Johnson and Neil Back in their side, in a bid to go down in history as one of the all-time great English club sides.
The Chiefs' wait to become champions
In six years since coming up from the Championship, Exeter have gone from everybody's favourites for relegation to everyone's second favourite side.
Despite not having the host of international stars that Saracens can boast, Baxter's side have been greater than the sum of its parts.
Players like Dom Armand, Mitch Lees, Ian Whitten and Dollman may not be household names, but have been transformed from players who seemed 'decent' to players worthy of competing in a top-flight final.
With academy products such as Nowell, Luke Cowan-Dickie and Slade all gaining England recognition, Exeter's policy of making the right signing, rather than the big-name signing, seems to be working.
And with some more quality additions this summer - England's Ollie Devoto and Australia forwards Dave Dennis and Greg Holmes are on their way to Sandy Park - who is to say that the Chiefs will not be back at Twickenham in the near future?
Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall:
"Give Exeter huge credit. All season they've been an 80-minute team, they're a resilient bunch and they brought it to us in the second half.
"The problem really was the set-piece.
"We kept on conceding penalties at the scrum or the maul and the more we conceded those penalties, the more field position they got and the more they mauled us. We just couldn't get our hands on the ball.
"But we showed the necessary composure in the last 15 minutes. Even after they scored we had a couple of chances to kill the game and the last try to win the game was a great try."
Exeter Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter:
"With five minutes to go there's not many teams in in big games who have been within three points of wining against Saracens.
"We've done a lot right, we've worked extremely hard, the only negative is that first 15 or 20 minutes.
"A lot of teams, especially when that happens in the first half hour, end up taking the whole game to learn, and we didn't.
"We ended the first half pretty well and that gave us great confidence in what we wanted to do. I think we got better and grew through the game."
Saracens: Goode; Ashton, Taylor, Barritt (capt), Wyles; Farrell, Wigglesworth; M. Vunipola, Brits, du Plessis, Itoje, Kruis, Rhodes, Fraser, B. Vunipola.
Replacements: George, Barrington, Figallo, Hamilton, Wray, de Kock, Hodgson, Bosch.
Exeter: Dollman; Nowell, Slade, Whitten, Woodburn; Steenson (capt), Chudley; Moon, Cowan-Dickie, Williams, Lees, Parling, Ewers, Salvi, Armand.
Replacements: Yeandle, Hepburn, Francis, Welch, Horstmann, Lewis, Campagnaro, Short.
Referee: Wayne Barnes.
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